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MSWA Research Education Forum Series

This WA based study, funded by MSWA, seeks to identify if treating individuals who have had an isolated attack of MS (termed CIS), using UVB narrow band light therapy, can reduce their risk of conversion to MS.

This important research is being conducted by WA scientists and led by Professor Prue Hart. This initial trial has shown some very promising results, so much so that MS researchers in Scotland, where the incidence of MS is significantly higher, would like to replicate the study there.

The theory is that sun exposure suppresses the immune system and that the UVB induces synthesis of Vitamin D and other molecules, which positively affect the immune system.

“In the PhoCIS trial, we have recruited individuals who have had only one event as we believe that if we can catch them very early in their disease progression, we can dampen it or halt its course. We give them phototherapy over the first two months and follow the cells in their blood, and images of their brain, for the next 12 months. The phototherapy is delivered in a dermatologist’s rooms and is similar to that given to patients with the skin condition psoriasis.”

Professor Hart

Professor Hart’s research proposes that UV via vitamin D-independent pathways, may be responsible for the reduction of the risk of conversion to MS. Generally, patients are not diagnosed with multiple sclerosis until they have had two demyelinating (clinical) events.

“UV phototherapy might also help people with Type 1 diabetes or someone who has had a stroke. We’ve been too strict with the messaging around exposure to the sun. We’re not getting enough UV exposure because of a fear of skin cancer, kids are being wrapped in cotton wool.

It’s well known that the incidence of MS increases the further you are away from the Equator. Levels of vitamin D are a biomarker of being in the sun but also a number of other molecules are created, some are known, some are unknown. That gave us a clue that UV could be regulating the disease,” added Professor Hart.

The researchers are currently analysing the results but also exploring possible blood markers that may potentially help develop blood tests that could predict the time to relapse for individuals.

Want to know more about this exciting trial, which is showing very promising results in preventing MS in some high-risk individuals?

MSWA is hosting a research forum series featuring a panel of local researchers, to keep you up to date.

Register your interest below:

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